Kelly Hughes responds to criticism on social media as the first SI Swim model to reveal her C-section scar.

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NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! In the 58-year history of the magazine, Kelly Hughes made history this summer when she became the first model to reveal her cesarean scar for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition.

To promote Pay With Change, a project to “positively shift the mainstream cultural narratives connected with women’s bodies, especially after becoming a mom,” the publication teamed up with Frida Mom.

Kim Kardashian, Maye Musk, Ciara, and Yumi Nu are this year’s cover ladies for the 2022 issue, where the proud model and mother posed in a string bikini in a nude hue.

Model:

Model Kelly Hughes delivered her now 3-year-old son via cesarean.

Kelly Hughes had a cesarean delivery for her son, who is now 3 years old. (Swimsuit by SI/Fumi Hoppe)

Hughes underwent a cesarean delivery for her now 3-year-old son. She follows in the footsteps of Hunter McGrady, who posed for the outlet six months after giving birth, and Katrina Scott, the Rookie of the Year for 2021, who was photographed when she was six and a half months pregnant.

After Hughes’ photo gained popularity, the creator and designer of the jewelry company HES collaborated with ESTAS Beauty to launch the #ScarLoveChallenge on social media in an effort to dispel the stigma associated with scars and create a sense of empowerment. Participants are encouraged to reinterpret Hughes’ shot by displaying their scars as part of the challenge. ESTAS will donate $1 to World of Children for each #ScarLoveChallenge photo that is shared, assisting underprivileged kids all over the world.

Hughes talked to Fox News Digital about her difficulties during childbirth, her concerns following the birth of her child, and how she now responds to critical comments on Instagram.

Kelly Hughes gave birth to her son in November 2018.

In November 2018, Kelly Hughes gave birth to a son. (With Kelly Hughes’ permission)

How did you become associated with SI Swimsuit? Fox News The Florida Keys, which are close to me because I live in Miami, was where they were shooting when one of my model friends in New York noticed they were seeking for a female with a C-section scar. I contacted my agency, and they suggested me, which is how I was hired. It’s fantastic because my pal is a mommy as well. And I wouldn’t have had this chance without her. So it’s lovely to see one mother standing up for another mother.

on Fox News Bring us back to the shooting. How did that feel? Hughes: Before I even started shooting, I was thinking about a lot of different things. I had never previously displayed my scar. And I’ve been quite honest about how I battled insecurities about my scar. Since I’m a model, I originally didn’t want a C-section thinking the recovery would be considerably more difficult.

You simply face a lot of pressure from society to “bounce back.” I was no longer a size two. I wasn’t really modeling in a bikini to begin with. So, revealing my biggest insecurity in a publication like Sports Illustrated at first made me nervous. I wasn’t sure how others would react to me.

Kelly Hughes is the first model to bare her C-section scar in the magazine's 58-year history.

Kelly Hughes is the first model in the 58-year history of the magazine to display her C-section scar. (Swimsuit by SI/Fumi Hoppe)

Fox News: How did people treat you on set? Hughes: The editor made me feel so gorgeous and confident as soon as I arrived. My insecurity was transformed by her into the most lovely thing in the world. She simply improved my attitude toward my scar. I had never felt so good about myself. I just noticed that I shouldn’t have to feel as insecure about my scar after looking at it in the mirror. And everyone had the same response when it came time to shoot. They gave me such a sense of power and inspiration. I can only image how many stunning women they have encountered; now I get to contribute to that depiction. The encounter was therapeutic for me. Just getting over my insecurities was a huge help.

Kelly Hughes said she was not instantly embraced by the fashion industry after giving birth.

Kelly Hughes claimed that after delivering birth, the fashion business did not immediately accept her. By André Gabb

on Fox News Despite your anxieties, how important was it to you to display your C-section scar? Hughes: Sincerely, I had no idea how much of an effect this would have on individuals. But my picture spread like wildfire over the globe. I definitely wouldn’t have done this previously, but I also didn’t view myself the same way I do now. And I think it’s lovely that a publication like Sports Illustrated would depict a woman who had a C-section and declare that she is attractive. I’ve come to understand how significant that image is to me because I was unaware of how underrepresented this was.

It appears that one in three women are giving birth via C-section, which is a significant percentage of women. But this is relevant to all women, not just those who have had C-sections. This also appeals to women who, in general, have scars and feel self-conscious about them. The fashion industry has changed, and all types of women are now being accepted. We don’t have to have the same appearance. I feel a real need to continue this conversation because this photo represents so much more than just a C-section scar.

Kelly Hughes is the founder and designer of the jewelry brand, HUES! Her designs have been worn by JBalvin, Ricky Martin, Chayenne, Zion y Lennox, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Young Thug, and many more.

The creator and designer of the jewelry line HUES is Kelly Hughes. JBalvin, Ricky Martin, Chayenne, Zion y Lennox, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Young Thug, and many others have all sported her creations. Cata Boos

on Fox News What thoughts popped into your head when you first saw your photo? Hughes: Wow was all I could say, *laughs*. I won’t ever forget that situation. In order to have possibilities, we shot with six different swimming suits that day. And for some reason, I simply knew that picture would be chosen as soon as I took it. It merely exudes absolute delight. And that’s how we ought to feel when we examine our scars, in my opinion. It signifies that we were here and that we overcome a challenge.

Kelly Hughes (seen here) joins Katrina Scott, 2021s Rookie of the Year, who was photographed when she was six and a half months pregnant.

Kelly Hughes, the Rookie of the Year for 2021, joins Katrina Scott, who was pictured when six and a half months pregnant. Alamy Live News/Sipa USA/Alberto E. Tamargo

Nobody wants to display cellulite in the fashion world, as you well know. Nobody wants to display their scars. However, these occurrences are common and ought to be accepted as such. And all you can see in my photo is pure delight. I used to feel so self-conscious about my scar, but it also symbolizes the most wonderful time in my life—the birth of my kid. So I ought to be happy.

on Fox News Some detractors have stated, “Women in bikinis are featured in the magazine SI Swimsuit. Need we really watch this?” What would you say to them? Hughes: It’s fascinating; I was surprised to learn that nearly all of the contacts I’ve received have been encouraging. Even the newspaper coverage my photo garnered after becoming viral was positive. Sure, folks like to comment on Instagram occasionally, but I’ve received a ton of encouraging remarks from both men and women. Unspecific comments like “who cares?” and “she’s half-naked” or “we don’t want to see this” are still common. There will always be some who want to dull your light, the fact is.

Kelly Hughes said that at first, she felt insecure about her C-section scar.

Kelly Hughes admitted that at first, she struggled with her C-section scar insecurity. Villian Arthur

All I can say is that I don’t know how someone could remark negatively, particularly on someone’s social media posts. It is not necessary. You don’t benefit in any way from that. But the overwhelming number of supportive remarks from people demonstrates the need for something like this. The topic at hand is representation. Consider the mothers who are bikini-clad at the beach despite having C-section scars. It occasionally peaks out.

Women have told me in so many messages that they bought a bigger bikini or just wore a one-piece to the beach because they felt so self-conscious about it. They make an effort to hide the scar since they are self-conscious about it. They are concerned about what others may think or say. Sports Illustrated is now discussing that. We really needed it. You shouldn’t have to make accommodations for everyone simply to make them feel better. You are so much more than anything anyone could possibly say that is bad.

Now that I’ve had a baby, I’m getting comments from ladies telling me how confident and empowered they feel to wear that bikini once more. When people view my photo, I want them to be inspired to accept themselves and treat themselves with grace. Now that I can see my scar, I’m proud of what I endured. I accept it. I remain here. And my photo clearly demonstrates that. I simply want it could inspire others to experience the same.

Kelly Hughes said she has received both positive and negative comments since going viral.

Kelly Hughes claimed that after going viral, she has encountered both positive and negative feedback. Villian Arthur

on Fox News 2018 saw your motherhood. However, it sounds like you faced some difficulties. What took place? Hughes: In November 2018, I gave birth to my son. I experienced morning sickness and other common pregnancy symptoms, but nothing serious. I had a healthy pregnancy and believed I would give birth naturally. I was prepared because I had read everything there was to know about natural labor. I never suggested that a C-section might be necessary. I just wanted to get back to normal as soon as I could. A C-section would require a lengthier recuperation, I realized. Unfortunately, “the doctors” discovered that my hips weren’t aligned when I was in labor. They were slightly displaced, which occurs frequently throughout pregnancy. Until it was too late, I was unaware of this.

A post shared by Frida Mom (@fridamom)

I was around 36 hours into a very protracted labor when I realized that I wasn’t dilation past seven centimeters. They then suggested a C-section at that point. I initially said, “No, no, no.” However, that was my first mothering lesson—you can’t plan for everything. I didn’t want to jeopardize my son’s health or, obviously, my own. Finally, I gave in. But two days after returning home, I got really ill. I returned to the hospital, where it was discovered that I had a pretty serious infection. I was in the hospital for eight days, and the infection was removed during a second surgery. My son and I being apart was extremely stressful. They didn’t want him in the hospital, and I wasn’t in the maternity unit any longer.

Simply put, I felt awful. Like, why did I get hit with this? what went wrong with me? Particularly new mothers put a lot of pressure on themselves because they want everything to be flawless. And to be honest, I don’t think this is talked about enough. More discussions and informational outreach are required regarding the myriad of potential childbirth complications. The mother and child’s health, however, comes first. I wanted a beautiful, natural birth to take place. That’s okay; it didn’t; Both my son and I are present.

Kelly Hughes said she underwent a lengthy labor as a first-time mom.

Kelly Hughes claimed that as a first-time mother, she had a protracted labor. (Photos by Lucica)

on Fox News Did you still experience pressure to “bounce back” or appear a certain way while you were recovering from giving birth? Hughes: I wish I could say the pressure subsided after giving birth. It surely didn’t. And to be quite honest, I’ve been modeling for 22 years. In the past 18 months, I have witnessed the fashion industry change. But when I delivered birth in November 2018, that change hadn’t yet occurred. When I attempted to return to work, I did experience that opposition. I didn’t have the same appearance as previously. Without a doubt, I lacked confidence.

Model Kelly Hughes delivered her now 3-year-old son via cesarean.

0 Kelly Hughes is a Miami resident. Villian Arthur

I felt awfully insecure. And I don’t believe I’ve yet felt a complete hug. You may not always have time to work out as a mom. You may not always have any time. In order to rush back to my son, I had to eat whatever was available in the house or that I could quickly grab. I had modified my diet. My daily habits had changed. My life’s requirements had shifted. However, the truth is that after having a child, you are no longer the same. Therefore, you shouldn’t feel obligated to maintain your previous behavior. It took some time, but that’s okay, to accept my scar. I no longer believe I should feel guilty about it.

Fox News: How is motherhood in the modern world? Hughes: It’s a good thing. I continue to model. For a business that sells apparel for breastfeeding mothers, my son and I participated in a photo session. His age was two months. I wasn’t completely healed, so it was a little challenging. I had undergone two surgeries and was still healing. However, it was a fantastic experience. It’s been great working with my kid on the numerous photo shoots we’ve had. He is already three and a half, which is amazing.

Model Kelly Hughes delivered her now 3-year-old son via cesarean.

1 Kelly Hughes aspires for her participation in SI Swimsuit to encourage other women, particularly mothers, to embrace their bodies. Swimwear by Fumie Hoppe for SI

Like my best friend, he is. I think we’re getting closer than ever. During the period that I was in the hospital, we were apart, but now we’re making up for it. We spend all of our time together, and I cherish every moment of the day. He travels with me everywhere. Every moment is valuable to me.

At Foxnews.com, Stephanie Nolasco writes about entertainment.

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